Despite the loss of tunes to ci-poetry during the Qing Dynasty, poets still composed a large number of new ci-poems, and ci-poetry in Chinese classical poetry has been considered as lyrics to music in contrast to regulated poems. Based on the ci poetry of the Tang and Song Dynasties, Qing-dynasty poets developed two main methods to compose the new tunes for ci-poems, which were “tuning on the consideration of tones of every word” and “blending tunes to create a new tune.” These two methods enabled the poets to compose lyrics before revising the melodies. Thus, the poets in the Qing Dynasty, when composing ci-poems according to their newly invented tunes, could free themselves from the constraints in the Tang and Song ci-poetry, so they could compose and improvise according to the prosody and rhythm of words, and harmonize the lyrics and tunes to ensure better performance. Critical surveys of music in ci-poetry that were prevalent in the Qing Dynasty informed us that the music in the ci-poems was mainly created in the Qing Dynasty. This means that ci-poetry was essentially the tune, that is, music was highlighted in the composition of ci-poetry. In other words, the distinction between lyrics and tunes in ci-poetry was not an important issue for ci-poets in the Qing Dynasty. The fact that ci-poets composed their own tunes in the Qing Dynasty was closely connected to the upsurge of song lyrics at that time. This illustrated the pursuit of musical beauty among the ci-poets in the Qing Dynasty and their dissatisfaction with the constraints of ci-poetry conventions. Their pursuit and practice were in fact part of the revivalism literary action and an indication of the urge to return to an orthodox literary order.


invented tunes, methods of literary creation, music, text, lyrics

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